Nellie Pater is seeking her second term as the mayor of Tomah.
She is running against two members of the Tomah city council, Mike Murray (District 3) and Mary Ann Komiskey (District 1).
In April 2016 Pater won the mayoral race after incumbent Shannon Hough resigned in February 2016. Pater defeated three write-in candidates to be elected.
Prior to being mayor, Pater served on the city council for District 5 from 2007 to 2011, when the city was redistricted, and District 7 from 2011 to 2016.
Pater is originally from Chicago, where she graduated from Harrison High School in 1975.
After high school Pater left Chicago with her husband, who was in the Army. Pater and her husband traveled a lot — for a time they were stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, and then went to Fort Sheridan in Illinois.
In 1993 Fort Sheridan was closed, and Pater, who works for the Department of the Army, was transferred to Fort McCoy. She has worked 38 years with the government.
Pater now lives in Tomah with her husband, Tony. She has three children.
In the community Pater is active in Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church, and she volunteers in the community.
“I volunteer for all kinds of things. Whenever there is something special needed, I volunteer there. I volunteer at the Senior Center,” she said. “Whenever I see something I would like to volunteer for, I just go at it. It’s one way of helping my community and the people that live here.”
Pater decided to run for a second term as mayor because she wants to continue being involved with city projects. If she gets re-elected, she hopes to see ongoing city projects through to the end.
“I want to see that the city moves forward, because it has ... big potential,” she said. “I want to be part of the creation of the projects in the TID districts that we’re creating. Also I want to be able to be involved in the projects that are being done right now. I have had a lot of people who have asked me to run again because they feel that I am always involved. So just the completion of what I have started, I just want to be part of that.”
On the city’s Tax Incremental Finance Districts (TIDs 8, 9 and the possible creation of 10), Pater is in favor of them all.
“I come from a big city, and I’ve learned that to get something you have to invest in it,” she said. “The city has invested, which a lot of cities are doing now, it’s not the state and the federal government just handing you money anymore, so you have to find ways to invest in your city — that’s what we’re doing by building up these TIDs. ... You have to invest in your city in order for the city to grow.”
Pater is enthusiastic about the new Tomah Memorial Hospital and Gundersen Clinic and cancer center coming to the city. .She said they will benefit the city.
“I think the hospital is a step forward for the city,” she said. “I think the hospital wouldn’t have moved forward with the new hospital if they didn’t there there was any growth potential (in the city). So I’m excited. I think a lot of people in the community are excited to see that hospital go up.”
Pater said the hospital development will draw people into the city.
“I think that once it goes up, you’re going to find that a lot of people from different communities are going to come into our city and they’re going to use our restaurants, they’re going to use our stores, our businesses, and that’s what we want,” she said. “While they’re at it, they’re going to look around and say, ‘Hey, this is a pretty great place to live,’ and maybe they’ll move here.”
On the relocation of Monroe County’s Rolling Hills Rehabilitation Center & Retirement Home to Tomah, Pater said it’s good for city and county residents.
“For residents it’s going to be a change for them, it’s going to be a change for everybody, but I’m excited for them to come,” she said. “There are a lot of avenues that we have to go through, but I think it will come together, and having the nursing home right next to the hospital where there are services for them is going to be great for them, and I’m excited for the nursing home to come to Tomah.”
On the new Chamber of Commerce building, Pater said the chamber should have to pay some money to lease it.
“This is me as a mayor, I’m not speaking for the council, I’m not speaking for the city administrator, but I would like to see some money from the Chamber to go into an account, because you can only use that money for tourism,” she said. “I think that they should pay some kind of amount for a lease. We don’t do it for any other non-profits, so I would definitely like to see them pay some kind of fee.”
Taxes, Pater said, are where they should be. She described taxes as stable.
“There was a decrease this year, and I’m hoping to see that next year and the years after as more development comes in and the TIDs start,” she said. “I think we’ll get more revenue for the city. So I think taxes are good and stable right now.”
Pater said city streets could be better, but that takes money.
“We have been taking roads and fixing them as money is available,” she said. “There has been improvement on a lot of the roads in our city. Every year we go down and look at what roads are the worst and we go out to fix them. ... Can we fix them all at one time? No, we can’t. It costs millions of dollars. To keep taxes low, you have to take baby steps.”